Stark warning issued to motorists in Norwich who drink and drive this Christmas by mother who lost daughter in crash involving drunk driver
PUBLISHED: 09:00 21 December 2012
PC Andy Lincoln, a member of Norfolk's roads policing unit based at Wymondham, is also a family liaison officer who is tasked with supporting the families of loved ones who experience sudden or unexpected bereavement.
PC Lincoln, who has been targeting motorists as part of this year’s annual drink-drive campaign, said visiting a family who have lost a loved one is hard enough, but is even more difficult if a drink driver is involved.
He said: “There’s nothing worse than knocking on someone’s door and telling them about a fatality, but when there’s drink involved it makes it even more difficult.”
Sadly, it was exactly the situation PC Lincoln was confronted with in July last year when he supported the family of a woman who was killed after being involved in a crash with a drink-driver.
He said: “It was absolutely horrendous – I had a tear in my eye. The family were lovely, absolutely lovely – a similar age to me, which brought it home even more.”
PC Lincoln was supporting the family of Claire McKeown, a rising star in Liverpool’s creative arts scene who had her life taken from her, aged just 32.
She was visiting Norfolk to celebrate a friend’s wedding in July last year and was one of four people in a car which had stopped at South Lopham, near Diss, at about 9.45pm on July 1 waiting to turn into Blue Pump Farm.
Unbeknown to Claire, a total stranger – unemployed Amanda Brierley – had earlier got into her silver BMW seven at the White Hart pub in Roydon, having drunk two bottles of wine, to drive to her home at The Street, South Lopham.
Brierley, who almost knocked a pub worker off his bicycle as she drove off, forgot to turn on her lights and almost hit a black Fiat Panda driving in the opposite direction.
One kilometre into her journey, with her lights now on, Brierley, who had two previous convictions for drink-driving, ploughed into the back of the car containing Claire, who was a front seat passenger.
Brierley, who was travelling at a speed of at least 40mph, appeared not to notice them when she crushed the silver Skoda, pushing it along the road.
Claire died from her injuries the next day in the West Suffolk Hospital. Two of the other three in the car were seriously injured.
In December last year, Brierely, who was found with 98 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the limit is 35 micrograms – was jailed for eight years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.
Claire’s mother, Sally Walker, a former nurse at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, who now lives in Yorkshire with her husband Martin, is about to experience her second Christmas without her daughter.
But she has spoken out bravely in a bid to try and urge motorists not to drink and drive so others do not have to suffer as she and the rest of her family have.
Mrs Walker said: “The one thing I would say is just don’t drink and drive – it’s as simple as that really.
“If you do, then something like the accident that happened to Claire could happen to you, or you could cause it.
“You can’t really begin to imagine.
“What people just don’t realise is that if they do drink and drive and if an accident happens and someone is seriously injured or dies, then you have to live with that for the rest of your life and, sadly, so do the family of the people that have been lost.”